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6.0 Business to Business Responsibilities

6.0 Food Business Responsibilities to Other Food Businesses

Social Stewardship Standards for Farms, Ranches, and other Food and Agriculture Businesses (2019v4)

6.1 Freedom of association #

a. All certified businesses have the right to freedom of association free from retaliation of any kind by the certified buyer or his/her agents.

b. Buyers are required to comply with all regional and national laws regarding freedom of association and rights to collective bargaining.

6.2 Negotiation Process #

a. Certified businesses shall have the right to choose their representatives in a process free of interference or intimidation from other certified businesses.

6.3 Conflict resolution procedure #

a. Formal contracts between certified businesses must contain a fair conflict resolution process through which certified businesses can submit complaints and appeals to address concerns about unfair contracts and other business practices.

b. In the absence of a formal contract, which provides for fair Conflict Resolution Procedures, mechanisms must be established to provide an equitable procedure by which certified businesses can submit complaints and appeals to address concerns about unfair contracts and other business practices.

c. Certified businesses will be protected from retaliation for submitting such complaints.

d. Certified businesses agree to follow the AJP conflict resolution procedures (outlined in the AJP policy manual) in the case that either party is not satisfied with the outcome of the conflict resolution process.

6.4 Long‐term relationships #

a. Certified businesses will work in good faith to establish long‐term and stable relationships which provide mutual respect for the needs and rights of both parties.

6.5 Right to Know #

a. Certified businesses must provide, if requested by other certified businesses with whom they do business, a copy of the contract defining the business’ roles, payments, schedule, quantity, quality of product, way to submit a complaint, and any other terms of business transaction. If written contracts exist, contracts must be written and/or explained in a language understood by the certified business representative. The information must be easy to read and understand and must clearly disclose all major material risks.

b. All contract or agreement terms and any changes in the contracts or agreements between certified businesses must be negotiated in good faith.

c. Certified businesses must have free access, upon request, to contract files on them and be provided a copy thereof upon their request.

d. Certified businesses will make transparent procedures for grading and justifications for price differentials based on quality.

e. Certified businesses will give other certified businesses information on the total quantity delivered and the total money paid certified businesses.

f. Written agreement if either certified business wants a written agreement.

6.6 Anti‐discrimination clause #

a. Certified businesses shall not discriminate against any certified business in setting agreements, contracts, pricing, benefits, or any other capacity, on the basis of race, creed, color, national or ethnic origin, nationality, gender, gender identity, age, handicap or disability, union or political activity, immigration or citizenship status, marital status, pregnancy or sexual orientation.

6.7 Human relations #

a. All businesses transaction must be done with dignity and respect, without physical, psychological, verbal, or sexual harassment or other abuse.

6.8 Termination of contracts #

a. No agreements or contracts between certified businesses will be terminated without just cause.

b. All certified businesses have the right, if they so request, to have a representative of their choosing present during any agreement or contract interview or renewal.

6.9 Fair Pricing #

a. The prices paid between certified businesses will be based on:

  1. Documented costs.

  2. Fair and open negotiations that set a fair price that is acceptable to both parties.

  3. Where appropriate, the world price or regional price for that specific type of product, whichever is higher.

  4. The product’s specific market qualities; including but not limited to – additional identity preserved claims of organic, geographic indicators and other verified sustainability claims.

6.10 Fair Business Practices #

a. The pitting of one certified business against another to drive down prices and the use of a discriminatory ranking system for determining payments is prohibited. Any such retaliation or the spreading of false or misleading information by the buyer or the buyer’s agents shall not be allowed.

b. Honest audits

  1. Auditors are granted access to the entirety of requested documents and information necessary to complete the audit.

  2. The operation does not bribe auditors.

6.11 Payments, penalties, and deductions #

a. Provisions such as excessive docking for low quality and other unwarranted deductions are prohibited for all certified businesses.

b. Withholdings of payments is prohibited. Payments to certified businesses must meet the terms of the letter of intent, the agreement, or the contract. The buyer must pay other certified businesses fully and on time as agreed in purchase agreements.

This standard does not restrict an employer from complying with legally required procedures.

Businesses are encouraged to adopt all the practices outlined in this section of the standards with all businesses from whom they buy product.